Superoxide production by NAD(P)H oxidase and mitochondria is increased in genetically obese and hyperglycemic rat heart and aorta before the development of cardiac dysfunction. The role of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase-derived NADPH

Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2009 Jul;297(1):H153-62. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.01142.2008. Epub 2009 May 8.


Increased oxidative stress is a known cause of cardiac dysfunction in animals and patients with diabetes, but the sources of reactive oxygen species [e.g., superoxide anion (O(2)(-))] and the mechanisms underlying O(2)(-) production in diabetic hearts are not clearly understood. Our aim was to determine whether NADPH oxidase (Nox) is a source of O(2)(-) and whether glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD)-derived NADPH plays a role in augmenting O(2)(-) generation in diabetes. We assessed cardiac function, Nox and G6PD activities, NADPH levels, and the activities of antioxidant enzymes in heart homogenates from young (9-11 wk old) Zucker lean and obese (fa/fa) rats. We found that myocardial G6PD activity was significantly higher in fa/fa than in lean rats, whereas superoxide dismutase and glutathione peroxidase activities were decreased (P < 0.05). O(2)(-) levels were elevated (70-90%; P < 0.05) in the diabetic heart, and this elevation was blocked by the Nox inhibitor gp-91(ds-tat) (50 microM) or by the mitochondrial respiratory chain inhibitors antimycin (10 microM) and rotenone (50 microM). Inhibition of G6PD by 6-aminonicotinamide (5 mM) and dihydroepiandrosterone (100 microM) also reduced (P < 0.05) O(2)(-) production. Notably, the activities of Nox and G6PD in the fa/fa rat heart were inhibited by chelerythrine, a protein kinase C inhibitor. Although we detected no changes in stroke volume, cardiac output, or ejection fraction, left ventricular diameter was slightly increased during diastole and systole, and left ventricular posterior wall thickness was decreased during systole (P < 0.05) in Zucker fa/fa rats. Our findings suggest that in a model of severe hyperlipidema and hyperglycemia Nox-derived O(2)(-) generation in the myocardium is fueled by elevated levels of G6PD-derived NADPH. Similar mechanisms were found to activate O(2)(-) production and induce endothelial dysfunction in aorta. Thus G6PD may be a useful therapeutic target for treating the cardiovascular disease associated with type 2 diabetes, if second-generation drugs specifically reducing the activity of G6PD to near normal levels are developed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / metabolism
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism
  • Endothelium, Vascular / physiopathology
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified / blood
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / genetics
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Enzymologic / physiology
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase / biosynthesis
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase / metabolism*
  • Glutathione / metabolism
  • Heart Diseases / etiology
  • Heart Diseases / physiopathology
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / metabolism
  • Hyperglycemia / genetics
  • Hyperglycemia / metabolism*
  • Insulin / blood
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology
  • Mitochondria, Heart / enzymology
  • Mitochondria, Heart / metabolism*
  • Myocardium / enzymology
  • Myocardium / metabolism
  • NADP / metabolism*
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism*
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Rats
  • Rats, Zucker
  • Superoxides / metabolism*
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Up-Regulation


  • Blood Glucose
  • Fatty Acids, Nonesterified
  • Insulin
  • Triglycerides
  • Superoxides
  • NADP
  • Hydrogen Peroxide
  • Glucosephosphate Dehydrogenase
  • NADPH Oxidases
  • Glutathione